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VR Hang Gliding in Cesium for Unreal

It's humanity’s closest experience to bird flight. Hang gliding pilots ride prone in midair, just a simple metal frame and fabric wing keeping them afloat. They may be towed aloft, but can even launch by foot off a high point. 

Freeflight Experience offers hang gliding flights in VR.

As thrilling as the sport may be, preparing for a safe flight requires thorough training, as pilots must overcome their natural instinct to pull back at the feeling of nothing underfoot. To meet this training need, Thomas Low and Cloudbase Game Labs have just released Freeflight Experience, a new VR hang gliding flight simulator built with Cesium for Unreal. 

All of the imagery in this video is from the Freeflight Experience, created using Cesium for Unreal.

Freeflight Experience allows users to take hang gliding flights in VR, with a realistic world of high resolution global imagery and Cesium World Terrain streamed from Cesium ion. Users can travel anywhere in the world and set the time and date for a simulated flight, controlling the sun position and length of the day.

Hang glider in Freeflight Experience

Fully 3D volumetric clouds, soaring birds, and AI controlled fellow hang gliders add to the realism of the experience. 

Freeflight Experience is more than just a realistic setting, though. The simulation includes realistic physics that models not only glider aerodynamics, but also atmospheric physics and the formation of thermals and other lift sources. The atmospheric model in Freeflight Experience is based on historical sounding measurements from any day and location.

Hang glider in Freeflight Experience

Developed by an aeronautical engineer with 48 years and more than 4,000 hours of hang gliding experience, the Freeflight Experience blends ultra-realism with accessible game play.

In the simulator, users will find windsocks that respond to the passage of thermals to help them correctly time a launch. There are also daily thermal cycles, where ground heating begins at sunrise, builds during the day, and mellows in the late afternoon.

Hang glider in Freeflight Experience

Users can analyze their flights with the audio-visual variometer, which displays altitude, instantaneous and average climb or descent rate, temperature, time of day, and airspeed.

VR setup for Freeflight Experience

Wearing their VR headset, users can choose to sit in a chair holding the controllers, or they can be suspended in a real hang gliding harness, using a “control bar,” the A frame that pilots use to steer their gliders. 

In recent decades, the hang gliding sport has been somewhat in decline as potential new participants have turned to paragliding and other activities. To fill the training gap of an aging community, Freeflight Experience is designed to supplement the training of new pilots and to allow experienced pilots to hone their skills or maintain those skills when practicing isn’t possible due to seasonal weather. 

Hang glider in Freeflight Experience

As beautiful and fun as the Freeflight Experience is, the ultimate goal of the app is to inspire players to get out of the game and pursue the sport in real life as they experience the beauty, challenges, and thrills of the original extreme sport.

Hang glider in Freeflight Experience

To get started building your own game experience with real world data, check out our Cesium for Unreal tutorials.